Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our "Christmas" Morning

Ever since I put the gifts under the tree Jathan has been begging and pleading anxiously awaiting the day that we would open gifts. I tried to tie in our wait with our advent studies and talk to him about how God promised a Savior and the world anxiously awaited His coming. I don't know if any of it sunk in or not but his attitude did dramatically improve over those last days of waiting.

I decided that Tuesday of this week was the day. Jackie would be off work and it would be just a couple of days before we'd leave for Alabama so we could get up in the morning and pretend it was Christmas morning, open presents in our pajamas, and play all day. I told Jathan the night before--big mistake! He couldn't hardly sleep!

When he got us up that morning, we told him we'd open gifts after breakfast. "I'm just going to sit here and look at the presents ALL DAY," he said.

Jackie cooked a big breakfast for us.

Then we all sat down to eat. Ryland practically licked his plate clean. The boy loves gravy and biscuits!

I actually woke Piper up...

so that she could enjoy some eggs and gravy, too. She said, "Thank you very much."

And Jathan said, "Don't touch me with gravy hands, Piper!"

When everyone was finished eating, Jathan brought us his Bible and told us to read. He actually remembered Jackie reading the Christmas story last year before we opened presents! After we read Jathan prayed. "Thank You, God, for toys and food and presents. Amen." = )

Jackie passed out their stockings and everyone paused for a picture.

Ryland seemed totally confused the whole time but although he didn't know what was going on, he liked it! Piper was also excited to have everyone sit in the floor with her. She got some juice and a book in her stocking.

Then it was unwrapping time!

Ryland was super excited about his new bubbles!

He also loved his new magna doodle. "I DRAW!" Ha, ha.

I think his favorite gift, however, was his new grocery cart. He quickly loaded that sucker up and has pushed it all around. Doesn't he make the cutest little hobo?

Jathan was the most fun to watch, I think. He was just so excited about everything. The very first gift he opened was some skeleton dinosaurs. He'd been asking me for weeks if he was getting any dinosaurs; he was very concerned. Then he opened those and a huge grin spread across his face and he jumped into my lap saying, "Oh, Mama, thank you!" It was kind of awesome. He was pretty much as enthusiastic about the rest of the gifts. He got more dinosaurs and more dinosaurs and a big babbling dragon that is his new bed buddy.

He and Ryland also had a joint gift...a big play structure of connecting tents and balls!

The girls both got juice for Christmas. Keeleigh's was a little fancier than Piper's.

Keeleigh was thrilled when she unwrapped her new movie, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. She and her friends have been reading through the book series and she's been dying to watch the movie.

Keeleigh also got a new duffle bag...

and a Scentsy warmer for her room...

When it came time to open her big present, she thought she knew what was in it. See I'd made the mistake of letting Jathan see me wrap her duffle bag. "It's a secret, so don't tell her," I told him. The minute we opened the door, as I was placing the present under the tree, he came to me and said, "I told Keeleigh!" Fortunately she didn't understand exactly what he'd said. He said "bag" and she heard "bike." So she thought a bike was in the big box.

But it was actually....a keyboard!

She is going to begin taking lessons after Christmas break! She is such a natural I can't wait to hear her hone in on her talent.

And at the end when everyone else had opened their gifts, there was one for me. Keeleigh had went out the night before with a friend and had used to her own money to buy me a surprise! She got me a pair of earrings, some eye shadow, and some bath goodies--bath salts, lotion, and bath gel. I definitely felt pretty special that she thought of me all on her own!

I love my gift from her but I love my four little gifts from God even more. Their smiling faces make me light up and their arms around my neck make me melt. I hold them and try to imagine how Mary felt holding the Son of God in her arms. How did her heart survive? Thank You, God, for sharing Your love with me through children.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lafreniere Park

Tonight we went on the 2nd Annual Combs Family Trip to Lafreniere Park to check out the Christmas lights!

It was a wonderfully cool night after a series of rather warm ones. I was glad that it actually felt like the appropriate season!


Keeleigh's friend Nadia went with us. They were nuts cracking us up all night!

Piper enjoyed the lights, too. When I took this picture she was just smiling her head off squealing. Isn't her little red nose the cutest?

Thank goodness for hot chocolate and popcorn to warm us up!

Yes, the popcorn was so delicious that Jathan and Ryland couldn't even pause for this picture, ha ha!

Yep, had to get a photo of Jackie checking his phone. It's his love and taking pictures obsessively is mine.

These are the wonderful things we remember all through our lives!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Celebration in the Oaks

Last night our home school group was treated to a fabulous party by an anonymous donor with a really big heart. First we met at the cafeteria for pizza and cupcakes (and fruit and veggies for those so inclined). While we were there the president of the seminary spoke explaining that a certain Christian man threw this party for everyone along with a night out at Celebration in the Oaks at City Park which would include ice skating for everyone! That wasn't all, however, this anonymous donor also set up a $100,000 endowment fund for our home school group! On Christmas morning this donor's wife will open up a present from her husband and inside will be a scrapbook chronicling our night--his gift to us in her honor. I'm so thankful for generous hearts who love our Lord!

Check out our pictures!

Here Jathan and Ryland pose at the cafeteria after enjoying their pizza and cupcakes. Ryland took that candy cane for all it was worth, ha ha!

I tried to get them to sing but Ryland was too impressed with the man caroler. "Dada!" he said.

After that we were off to City Park for Celebration in the Oaks.

A magical unicorn greeted us at the entrance.

Jathan said hello to a random raccoon that wandered up.

We said hello to Mr. Bingle!

We walked through Storyland where Jathan tried out Cinderella's pumpkin carriage.

Ryland was quite alarmed to kind a wolf at Red Riding Hood's grandmother's house!

He totally loved the cow jumping over the moon!

Everyone slid down the big dragon slide a few times including Keeleigh. Here she is flying off the bottom!

And here she is with her friend, Hannah, looking like pretty princesses!

The kids got their picture made with Santa but we haven't received it yet (it's being emailed to me today). I can't wait to see it!

I think Keeleigh's favorite part of the night was getting to "ice" skate. Of course it wasn't really ice since we live in New Orleans and it was 70 degrees last night. But we pretended.

And I didn't even fall down!

But Jathan did. A lot. He said it was fun anyway!

And Keeleigh was pretty good at skating, which came as no surprise. She survived been slung across the "ice" without falling while many, many others fell.

Jackie and Piper decided to sit out ice skating. = )

After ice skating we went for a ride on the train--Ryland's favorite thing EVER! (He saw me putting these pictures up here and starting shouting excitedly, "CHOO CHOO! CHOO CHOO! Ha ha!)

We rode through a tunnel of lights...

and past lots of pretty lights that my camera wasn't quick enough to capture!

It was such a fun night! We'll get to visit Storyland and the Botanical Gardens as many times as we want over the next year because part of our gift was a season's pass--woo hoo! Many thanks to the angels on earth who made it possible. May God bless them many times over for their generosity!